Srinagar: Former Hurriyat chairman Prof Abdul Gani Bhat’s alleged meeting with the centre’s new Kashmir point man Dineshwar Sharma has taken Kashmir by surprise. However, the maverick professor remains unfazed. He doesn’t either deny or confirm the meeting but makes it clear that the doors of his home were open to anybody and that he will talk to whosoever visits him.
“Dialogue is the only way out. Our fight is with India, so we have to talk to India. How will you otherwise resolve Kashmir,” Bhat said. “United Nations has been insensitive towards Kashmir. We need to think beyond the UN resolutions. War will not resolve Kashmir. India, Pakistan can’t go to war. Both are nuclear powers. So, there is no escape from talks”.
Prof Bhat said he will issue a statement about the reports of his meeting with Sharma along with another senior Hurriyat leader. “I will speak about it. I owe it to my people to reveal what happened,” he said.
However, Bhat said that Kashmir needed to move beyond the history into the present and future. “It is time we liberate ourselves from the history and start thinking about our future. And we have to have an outline for the future, an outline of a solution, a workable solution for Kashmir,” Bhat said adding, however, that Pakistan needed to be included in the dialogue. “You can’t hope to keep Pakistan out and hope to resolve Kashmir”.
However, in Kashmir, alleged meeting of the two top Hurriyat leaders with Sharma is seen as a challenge to policy on dialogue adopted by the Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik. In a statement, the three leaders who have now hurtled to the centre stage of Kashmir’s separatist politics have termed Sharma’s initiative “a futile exercise” and “a new tactic” by the centre.
However, with the JRL emerging as the sole arbiters of the separatist politics in Kashmir, other senior leaders have felt left out. The past year has witnessed some rumblings in the two Hurriyat factions led by Geelani and Mirwaiz respectively. Early this year, the top leader from the Geelani camp Shabir Shah had resigned from his post as the general secretary.
The situation isn’t any different in Mirwaiz camp. The major leaders of the faction like Prof Abdul Gani Bhat and Bilal Gani Lone have more or less retreated into shadows since the joining of hands by Geelani, Mirwaiz and Malik during the unrest last year. The trio presided over the six month long uninterrupted shutdown through a weekly issued protest roster, a strategy that was later slammed by Bhat.
Is Bhat’s meeting with Sharma a result of such a discord? He won’t again deny or confirm this. “I express my views as the leader of Muslim Conference. Others may have their reservations about the dialogue,” Bhat said. “But the JRL has also said that they are not against dialogue per se”.